At just 28 years old, Veronica Roth has written three books that have been turned into blockbuster movies. Now she’s debuting a whole new series.
The New York Times bestselling author and mastermind of the “Divergent” trilogy is back with a new young adult novel called “Carve the Mark” -- the first book of a two-part science-fiction fantasy series.
“So there’s a lot of moral ambiguity in the book, but it’s about a young man who’s kidnapped and taken to this enemy country. And when he’s there, he kind of learns that the things he assumed about those people are not necessarily true,” Roth explained on “CBS This Morning” Tuesday. “They’re actually more complicated and nuanced than he initially thought.”
Roth credits her mom for her early passion for books. At around 10 years of age, she began writing, and she has a rippled copy of Harry Potter from taking it into the shower.
“My mom wouldn’t allow us to be bored. That was not something we were allowed to complain about. And so she got us all these kits, you know like art kits and building-things kits. And one of them was a book-making kit. So it had all these blank pages and you could send it away to get bound,” Roth said. “And I think it was at that point that I thought, ‘Well, maybe I could fill it with something.’
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But it wasn’t until high school when she really started writing, after a teacher advised her to “really do something” with her hobby. She took a creative writing course at Northwestern University, where she said she was surrounded by “incredibly talented” writers -- she described herself as “just alright.” But during winter break, she completed writing her first book, which got published when she was just 23 years old.
“I think there’s this idea that, like when you get a book published, it’s a meritocracy -- like the better you are, the more likely you’ll be successful. But I don’t think that’s actually how it works,” Roth said. “Like everyone I know who writes has written multiple manuscripts that didn’t get published. They’re incredibly talented, and not everyone gets the attention that their book deserves.”
Roth said it was luck and timing that allowed her to strike it big. Her “Divergent” trilogy has sold more than 35 million copies worldwide, and all three of books have been turned into blockbuster movies. In all, they’ve grossed more than $740 million at box offices around the world.
And Roth is confident that “Divergent” fans – and especially Star Wars fans -- will also love the new series.
“It’s a little bit too general. But I think it is like a space adventure that kind of focuses on families. And I think that’s something that’s appealing about Star Wars,” she said.
Today, Roth still remembers a valuable lesson she learned from the peer reviews in her college creative writing class.
“I think what that class taught me is how to receive criticism. So that’s something that can be very difficult. It feels like it’s going to shatter you,” Roth said. “You just have to understand that when people don’t understand what you were trying to do with your story, maybe you didn’t do it that well.”